A one week residency here was a revelation. Unlike any other art institution, it served as a sun-drenched time-capsule away from everyday life where we could immerse ourselves in art. I simply tried to respond to the environment and to use materials in a very free expressive and gestural way, letting the paint dictate what happened. Initially reflecting the geology of the sea and beach, after a visit to ‘Aphrodite’s (fabled) Birthplace’, an abstract piece turned into a figure rising from the waves. Altogether great artistic experience.
A visit to Kolossi Castle where there just happened to be an exhibition of work by the artist, Lefteris Olympious proved even more inspiring. On my return I looked him up online and was fascinated to learn more about his work.
Just looked at the general layout of my blogs before a-n feature me next week and there seems to be several peculiarities in the order the video clips appear. I hope anyone who bothers to view my site can make sense of it.
On Sunday I’m off to Cyprus with a group of students from UCS and one of our tutors. It promises to be a great place for an Art Residency …Paphos Art School. The temperature will be in the high 20’s , maybe 30 degrees so that alone sounds good to me. I’m taking Acrylics and a camera but NO COMPUTER so it will be a blissful low-tech break where I can concentrate on my sketchbook as I did recently on a Walk/Draw session with Ruth Philo at Flatford Mill. It was a lovely experience meeting new fellow-artists. Took my daughter, Jo there the following week too. She’s a busy art-teacher and has little time for her own work. I remember those days clearly and it’s wonderful to have the chance to do my own thing these days….retirement is quite a treat as is doing an MA later in life.
Had a diabolical group crit. yesterday. I find it so hard to talk about my work. So as I have a formal assessment coming up soon, have decided to devote my time to ploughing through my copious Reflective Journals which run into two volumes, to extract the salient points and then write a mini-dissertation and use the voiceover tool on iMovie to create a commentary to a video of my work and images of contextual research. I think that will work better than trying to wing it on the day. My tutor commented that the visual language of my paintings spoke for itself, so hope I’m on the right track. I’ve enjoyed writing the reflective journals too, but speaking in front of my peers is a nightmare. The video camera lends an air of anonymity with which I feel comfortable. People can’t understand how different a proposition, working in large comprehensive schools was to talking in a group crit. As a teacher I took on a completely different personality, becoming a show-off extrovert within the four walls of the classroom. I enjoyed being a teacher immensely, but this facade of confidence evaporates like a puff of smoke once you leave the room…..very strange but true.
Well, I found a new button on iMovie….voiceover. This allowed me to speed up a rather long clip of myself painting and then to add a commentary. Much better than speeded up talking which sounds dreadful. So another step forward! I made this video specifically to assist with sorting out a difficult painting and I really think it’s going to help. The idea of sitting with an image when you get stuck is good. It does make you see things and decide where to go next and if there is nowhere to go then it means it’s finished. This one definitely is not finished. As a last resort it may be time to abandon and start something new.
A lot of things have slotted into place recently. I can’t quite understand how it’s happening but I guess it’s as a result of my involvement with the MA to which I’ve at last committed wholeheartedly. I’ve given up my role as tutor to a local art group. Much as I enjoyed teaching again, I realised that it was yet another diversionary tactic to avoid thinking about ART. We were told at the start of the MA to ‘dig deep’. I suddenly saw how stupid it was to waste this precious time in my life. There is a need to prioritise. I seem to have belatedly grasped the trick of living in the moment – not worrying about the future, not regretting the past. It’s liberating.
Painting has taken a leap forward by allowing the paint take over. Something I’ve tried in the past and have read about as vital, but until now obviously didn’t quite understand the process. Thoughts on this by various artists are all beginning to make perfect sense to me. Paint is a unique medium. Things happen. It flows. Adjacent colours dramatically change in front of your eyes. I’m learning to react intuitively to whatever occurs on the canvas… almost to follow the paint’s lead. Paintings really do ‘finish themselves’ if you allow them to.
Making and watching the videos of myself painting has taught me this. It’s surreal to watch the dramatic changes which happen in seconds sometimes by the small additions and subtractions of colour. A line or a wiping out can create such differences to the composition. I’ve even managed to make shapes float in space creating an almost 3D effect on a 2D surface and I’m not sure how I did that. I think, for almost the first time in my life I have completely surrendered my existence to my practice and not considered why I’m doing it. It’s just all I need to do at the moment. I’m not considering if a work will sell or if it will please my tutors – I’m just painting because I must and it feels right.